Fish Sandwich Throwdown: The Fishery Versus the Fish House

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The Fishery in St. Mathews

I have a thing for fish sandwiches.  It all started when I was a scrawny, unfortunate-looking kid.  I was a picky eater with a capital “P”.  When my parents would take us to McDonalds, I was forced to find something to eat.  McDonalds didn’t introduce the chicken nugget until 1983 so I had the options of hamburgers or a filet o’ fish.  I didn’t like hamburgers and would never consider eating one on a BUN with CONDIMENTS.  Eeeeew…gag me with a spoon.  So I went with the fish sandwich.  I could live with the bun, but not the cheese or tarter sauce.  My dad absolutely hated going to McDonalds with me and having to order that fish sandwich plain because it meant we got the orange road cone placed atop our car and we had to pull over into a parking spot to wait on the special order.  Many times they made it wrong and it would be presented to us with either cheese or tarter sauce which made me wonder why people can’t understand what the word “plain” means.

Now that I’m all grown up, I’m not that picky of an eater but I still like my fish sandwiches unadulterated.  I want to taste the FISH!  Before I moved to Kentucky, my blogging partners and I did an extensive study during Lent on the best fish sandwich available in Charleston, WV.  We aptly named the series: Top Fish.  The winner was a glorious sandwich from the Fresh Seafood Company made of two breaded whitefish fillets and a buttery, flaky croissant. It’s still one of the best to ever cross my lips.

Here in Louisville, I haven’t been presented with many opportunities to partake of fish sandwiches.  I’ve been to the Fishery many times and recently gave the Fish House a try.  So, let’s have a local fish sandwich Throwdown!

I will be judging based on several key components of fish sandwich enjoyment: 1) restaurant environment, 2) service, 3) breading, 4) bread, 5) the fish itself, 6) accompaniments, and 7) price.

1) Restaurant environment.  I’ve been to the Fishery locations in St. Mathews and Middletown.  Both are clean and top the Fish House in that department.  I’m sure it’s tough to keep up with all that fry grease and maintain a spotless eating area but The Fishery does a good job of it.  Both have some outdoor seating but the Fish House has a nicer patio.  Taking all things into consideration, the cleanliness factor gives The Fishery a leg up in this category.

2) Service.  Both establishments have similar SOPs: you order and pay at the counter, someone calls your name when it’s ready, and there are condiments and paper products available in the dining area.  That suits me just fine.  I don’t need to be waited on like the Queen of Sheba to enjoy my fish sandwich.  We asked a lot of questions at the Fish House like “do you bread the onion rings in house?” “are the fries fresh cut”, and “what’s the difference between scrod and haddock?”  The gentleman at the counter (who I’m betting was the owner) was super friendly.  He answered all our questions and gave us additional information without rushing us.  We’ve always received polite, efficient service at The Fishery as well.  Due to the excellent service offered to us at the counter, The Fish House wins this point.

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Haddock combo at The Fish House

3) Breading.  Now here’s where things start to get serious.  Good breading is essential to a good fish sandwich.  Unless, of course, you’re eating a grilled fish sandwich.  I like a golden brown, crispy breading that does not overpower the taste of the fish.  I am not a fan of spices in the breading – just give me some good ol’ American S & P.  The breading on The Fishery fish is fantastic.  It completely coats the fish with a golden brown breading that is thick enough to impart a nice crunch but not too much to overpower the thick, flaky cod.  It adheres well to the fish fillet and is nicely and simply seasoned.

The breading at The Fish House left much to be desired.

My husband and I ordered two different types of fish but I think the cornmeal breading was intended to be the same even though they turned out differently.  That sounded confusing.  My husband’s breading was on the light side and had a nice golden brown color.  I think mine was way overcooked and resulted in a much drier, darker end result.  Also, I felt the Fish House breading was underseasoned.  The Fishery definitely wins for best breading.

4) The bread.  I just don’t get why you Louisvillians want to eat your fish on two slices of el cheapo sandwich bread.  And I ask this question before going into the specifics of each restaurant because they both use sandwich bread as the standard.  First, the sandwich bread is way too thin which completely throws off the bread to fish ratio.  If I were a condiment person, I probably wouldn’t even be able to detect that I was eating any bread.  Secondly, there’s not near enough of the crusty part on sandwich bread slices unless you happen to luck out and get a heal.  Third, it just seems cheap to me, like they can’t afford real buns.  Fourth, the bread isn’t toasted, buttered, grilled, heated or nothing!  They just pull a couple slices out of the bag and slap the fish on it.   If you don’t want sandwich bread (like me) both places also offer some sort of bun.   Just like the bread, however, the buns are not prepped in any way.  It’s just the cold, plain bun out of the bag.  In my opinion, bread like that adds absolutely no value and may, in fact, be a detraction.  I just eat my fish sandwich without bread at these places.  This one is a tie – they both suck in the bread department.

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onion rings at The Fish House

5) The fish itself.  Like I explained previously, my husband and I ordered different types of fish at the Fish House so we could try both.  The cod (which was listed as scrod on the menu board) was flaky and tasty.  The fillet was not as thick as what I expected.   The haddock was dry, possibly due to overcooking.  The Fishery cod filet is always thick, hot, and super flaky.  There’s no contest on this factor – the Fishery wins hands down.

6)  Accompaniments.  The Fish House offers fries, cole slaw, onion rings, hush puppies, and other stuff. I chose fries and my husband chose the rings.  We both ordered our own hush puppies because we really like them and we aren’t willing to share with each other.  We were very excited about the rings because they make them in-house with their own breading.  Sadly, they turned out to be weird.  The onion slices were dry and lifeless.  The breading was underseasoned and seemed very similar to what was on the fish.  Maybe it’s just that it tasted like fish breading because it was all fried in the same grease?   No matter, we didn’t like them.   The fries are standard frozen straight-cut fries and were well-executed.   Hubby liked their hushpuppies better than I did.  I felt they were (are you seeing a trend?) a bit underseasoned.   I know I said I don’t like condiments on my fish, but I do like condiments on my fries.  My husband REQUIRES LOTS of ketchup for the fries, the onion rings and the fish sandwich.  We were mortified that the Fish House does not serve Heinz ketchup.  I am going to really hold back at this juncture and not delve into a tyrade about how Heinz ketchup is the ONLY ketchup.  Maybe another day.

The Fishery offers similar sides.  We always get fries and hush puppies.  (Mental note:  try the onion rings next time.)  The fries here are frozen as well and they are served hot, crispy, and golden.  The hushpuppies, in my opinion, are better at The Fishery.  They are more flavorful, a bit less dough-y, and slightly less dense.  I like to slather butter on my pups.  Yum!  The Fishery serves Heinz ketchup.  The point goes to The Fishery, but that ketchup situation would have taken the Fish House down regardless of the quality of the onion rings.

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Cod and hushpuppies at The Fishery

7.  Price.  Comparing the two eateries, prices are similar.  The Fishery offers a fish sandwich combo (sandwich plus two sides) for $8.25.  A generous order of hushpuppies is an additional $2.25. The Fish House offers a combo (sandwich and two sides) for $7.95 and hushpuppies are a quarter each.  I feel like you are getting much better quality for the money at The Fishery.  For that reason, The Fishery edges past the Fish House in this category.

Let’s tally the results:

Category The Fishery The Fish House

 

Environment Win Lose
Service Lose Win
Breading Win Lose
Bread Tie Tie
The Fish Itself Win Lose
Accompaniments Win Lose
Price Win Lose
Total  Winner, in a Landslide!

 

The Fishery – Middletown
11519 Shelbyville Rd. Ste. A.
Louisville, KY 40243
(502) 409-4296

The Fishery Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The Fish House
1310 Winter Avenue
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 568-2993

The Fish House and Cafe Beignet on Urbanspoon

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Food + Drinks + Patio = A Fun Time at the Monkey Wrench

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Wings

We were out on the town on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon looking for food and fun.  We sure found it on the upper level patio of the Monkey Wrench!

My two teenage daughters were with us.  They describe me as “obsessed with patios”.  What can I say?  I love outdoor dining when the weather is nice.  This was my first visit to the Monkey Wrench and I’m sure we will be back.

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Monkey Wrench Burger with fresh cut fries

We ordered a round of drinks to get started.  My husband had read about a gin and tonic prepared with cucumber and blueberries in a recent edition of the LEO so he was geared up to try it.  I typically go with a glass of wine but hubby was hoping we would all get fancy cocktails so I appeased him by ordering the white sangria.  He asked for two fruity virgin drinks with umbrellas for the girls.  Although I couldn’t really detect any flavor from the blueberries, my husband’s drink was refreshing and attractive.  (It inspired us to host a gin & tonic cocktail party at our home.)  My white sangria was tasty and the girls enjoyed their fruity drinks as well.  Many thanks to the establishment for charging us a very reasonable price for the two virgin drinks and really dressing them up with a fruit garnish and an honest-to-goodness drink umbrella!

The upstairs deck is dubbed the Lono Lounge and features a Cuban-Asian inspired menu.  We all ordered something to tide us over until dinner.  My husband’s favorite food “on the planet” is a cheeseburger so he wanted to see what the Monkey Wrench Burger had to offer.  I ordered the grilled shrimp on sugar cane, my 8th grader chose the wings and my junior selected the four cheese macaroni and cheese.

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Grilled Shrimp on Sugar Cane

After a slightly extended wait time (we were enjoying the atmosphere so it was not a problem) our food arrived.  I tasted everyone’s food except the burger because my husband was guarding it carefully.  My grilled shrimp did not look the way I had expected – it was finely chopped shrimp combined with other ingredients (garlic, cilantro, mint, basil) and formed into a corn dog sort of shape around the length of sugar cane.  It was very tasty so I don’t regret the choice, I just thought it would look like shrimp.

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Four Cheese Mac

The wings boasted a yummy sauce with both sweet and heat working in tandem.  They look somewhat burnt in the photo above but we did not get a burnt taste.  They were super caramelized and I like that a lot.  The mac and cheese was very good – ditalini pasta mixed with a blend of four cheeses (gruyere, white cheddar, American, and fontina) garnished with some sort of meat (the dark specks) and green onions.  Almost every plate has a sprinkling of green onions which seemed like overkill but it did add a nice kick to the mac and cheese.  My husband gave up some of his fresh cut fries and we girls gladly scarfed them up.  They had good flavor with some crunch and some tenderness so you could really taste the potato.  My husband said his burger was one of the best he’s had in the city!

All the components:  the food, the drinks, and the tiki-themed patio, added up to a fun and delicious experience with good service and a reasonable tab.  I’m anxious to go back and try the five spiced lemongrass chicken empanadas.  My husband has heard tell (that’s how we hillbillies would put it) of a burger special so I won’t have to twist his arm to get him there.

I rate the Lono Lounge at the Monkey Wrench 3 out of 5 overall.

The Monkey Wrench
1025 Barret Avenue
Louisville, KY
(502) 582-2433

Monkey Wrench on Urbanspoon

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We Enjoyed the Special at the Village Anchor

anchorI have heard lots of good things about The Village Anchor. I’ve also heard it’s pretty pricey unless you take advantage of one of their specials. The Village Anchor is located in the quaint village of Anchorage which boasts the wealthiest tax base of all the school districts in Kentucky. We saw many BMWs and Mercedes’ pull into the parking lot while we enjoyed the fresh air at our outdoor four-top. It was fun watching all the well-dressed diners pour in along with many who appeared to have just left the PGA venue at nearby Valhalla. It also made me jealous of more than one pair of nice shoes I saw walk by.

The restaurant has two parts: the Village Anchor proper, located on the top floor with a gorgeous outdoor patio, and the Sea Hag, located on the lower level with a bar inside and a large covered patio outside. The weather was utterly perfect for outdoor dining so we happily took a seat on the Sea Hag patio. The same menu serves all guests regardless of which level you choose but the specials are only available at the Sea Hag. $10-Buck-Tuesdays offer guests a meal and one adult beverage for only $10 per person. That’s a super deal! We decided to try Big-Bur-Thur which provides guests a gourmet burger, side dish, and two adult beverages for $20 per person.

We were concerned that the place would get very crowded (plus I was starving to death) so we arrived at the Sea Hag shortly before 6:00. There were many available tables at that time but the place did fill up before we left. Wait staff were polished and professional. Everyone at my table ordered the special: a half-pound ground tenderloin burger with pickled red onions, garlic aioli, arugula, white cheddar cheese, and a fried egg on a pretzel bun with tater tots. I 86’ed everything on my burger but the burger and the bun. I know: I eat my hamburgers and hot dogs like a 5-year old. With the special you have your choice of a handful of domestic beers or a glass of house wine.

The food was delivered about the time we all finished with our first round of drinks. The presentation was as nice as it could be I suppose – I mean, how do you make tater tots visually appealing? The plates were an attractive modern shape in crisp white. White plates really showcase the food in my opinion. I am transitioning to all white serve ware at home.

The burger was cooked to perfection – at least for me. There was some slight pink in the thickest part of the burger and the meat was tender and juicy. I don’t think I could have fit the whole stack in my mouth if I had all the accompaniments on the burger. I mashed it down as best I could just with the pretzel bun. Everyone in my party enjoyed the burger with lots of nods for the pretzel bun and the fried egg. The tater tots are probably pre-made frozen and fried on site, but they were crispy and hot. I would not say no to a crispy tater tot.

In an unexpected and creative turn, the bill is presented to you tucked inside the pages of a paperback romance novel.. You know, the kind with the voluptuous woman being held tightly by an Adonis?

Even with the two beverages included, I’m not sure this was an exceptional value. The wine list showed the least expensive glass of wine at $6 which means the burger could be valued at $8 and that’s just where I think it should be. Therefore it is a fair price but not like a half-off sale in the Macy’s shoe department. (I really have shoes on my mind today.) I plan to come back for $10-Buck-Tuesday and enjoy the patio again. The regular menu includes lots of dishes that are very appealing to me including shrimp and grits and sea bass but the prices would put it into the “special occasion” category so they’ll have to compete with Volare and Jeff Ruby’s for my attention.

I rate The Village Anchor 3.5 out of 5 for this visit. (The patio gets a 5!)

The Village Anchor
11507 Park Road
Anchorage, KY 40223
502.708.1850

Village Anchor and Sea Hag Pub on Urbanspoon

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Hay! Chi Wa Waa Caused Us to Say “Whaaaaaaat?”

My husband went out socializing with our neighbors while I was out of town on business last week.  The promise of Mexican food was powerful enough to pull him away from the evening he planned involving Redbox, take-out and his PJs.   The destination:  the Hay! Chi Wa Waa Mexican Bar & Grill in Lyndon.

Since I didn’t experience it firsthand, I extensively interviewed three of the four diners in my husband’s party.  I’ll just give you the high points (or low points, as it were) reported back to me.

1.  Strange salsa – at first the table was informed the kitchen was out of salsa but making more.  When the so-called salsa was delivered, it was piping hot with a flavor much like “tomato soup”.  No one liked the salsa.  They asked the waitstaff if it was supposed to be like that.  My neighbor said that could be a positive, because then she wasn’t tempted to fill up on chips and salsa and add all those extra calories to her meal.  She’s such a “half-full” kind of gal.

2.  Strange chimichanga gravy – my husband is obsessed with both chimichangas and gravy.  He can wax poetic about the different kinds of gravy and their delicious attributes.  Get him started and he’ll rave about chicken gravy, sausage gravy, turkey gravy, even squirrel gravy.  He has declared Los Aztecas to have the very best chimichanga gravy in town.  The gravy on the Hay Chi Wa Waa chimi was not at all to his liking.  He said it was like Salisbury steak gravy complete with bits of onion.  My husband was expecting some version of ranchero and/or queso sauce however, in defense of the restaurant, the menu does describe it as “brown chili gravy”.

3.  Strange chicken – during the interviews I conducted, the diners discussed the chicken and the “something” about it that made it strange.  No one could effectively describe it.  Perhaps it was cooked in advance and had a strange taste or texture due to reheating.  Perhaps it was the particular cut of meat.  They couldn’t put their finger on it.  I read some of the Urbanspoon reviews and several of them spoke of this strange chicken.

4.  Strange service – the group said they had at least a half dozen different employees involved in their service that night.  It seemed chaotic and disjointed.  As they tried to order, the owner/chef attempted to talk them into other dishes.  Two of the diners gave up and told him to just bring whatever he thought they would like.  Maybe my husband should have gone that route, too, given how the chimi thing turned out.

On the positive side, everyone said the guacamole was delicious!  Definitely the best part of the meal, the guacamole retained a chunky texture the group enjoyed.

I think the name is really fun.  I like saying it!

Hay! Chi Wa Waa
808 Lyndon Lane Suite 105
Louisville,  KY   40222
502-883-1924

Hay! Chi Wa Waa on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

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The “Like” Button is Simply Inadequate – Guaca Mole

guaca4I do not tire of Mexican food.  It is simply delicious.  I enjoy the standards (the El Nopals of the world) but I also enjoy a more upscale, sophisticated take on the traditional flavors.  Chef Fernando Martinez is one of my culinary heroes in Louisville and he doesn’t disappoint at all with the offerings at Guaca Mole.

I could do an entire post (and maybe I will) about the fabulous food this man creates.  I’ve already gone on and on about how much I like Mussel and Burger Bar, but I’ll try to stay on topic for this post.

This was my second visit to Guaca Mole.   Last time I had the shrimp ceviche, which was delicious, along with the carnita sopes, which…you guessed it! Were DELICIOUS!  I see this menu as one of those where you simply can’t make a bad choice so I wanted to try some other items even though I knew I’d be happy ordering the same things I ate the last time.  This place is so good, it made my short list for my “Best Thing I Ever Ate” post.

guaca3With a name like Guaca Mole, you would expect their guacamole to be pretty darned good, and it was.  We ordered the traditional version but they also offer two other, more adventurous varieties.  With a slightly chunky texture and the bright flavors of cilantro and lime we quickly made our way through the appetizer course.

guaca2For the entrée I chose the spicy chicken enchiladas.  I love the tartness of the salsa verde and the pickled red onions are fabulous.  (Note to self:  learn how to make those!  They would be perfect with our homemade carnitas.)  The chicken was tender and flavorful.  The dish was generously sauced and beautifully presented.  I was unable to finish the dish due to the more-than-adequate portion size.

The interior of the space is furnished with modern appointments, continuing the sophisticated mood set by the menu choices.  Service has been right on point during each of my visits with friendly, knowledgeable staff.  I feel the experience is well worth the already reasonable prices.

I highly recommend Guaca Mole and award it a top rating of 5 out of 5.  It’s one of my very favorite places in the city.

Guaca Mole
9921 Ormsby Station Road
Louisville, KY 40223
502-365-4822

Guaca Mole on Urbanspoon

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Earth Friends Cafe

earth friends 1Some former colleagues from West Virginia were in Louisville recently to attend a conference at a downtown hotel.  I was more than happy to meet them for drinks one evening and for lunch the following day.  Not only did I get to see some old friends, but it was a great excuse to go out to eat!  There was one little wrinkle, though….these friends are vegetarian.  Typically I choose a restaurant with no concern for meatless options so I had to do a little research and give my recommendations some serious thought.

These particular friends and I have done a lot of socializing in our past, usually revolving around wine club, WVU athletics, or my annual St. Patrick’s Day soiree.  I am always careful to include vegetarian options on my home entertaining menus.  One time, this friend accidentally ate seafood which was in a creamy marinara style dip before I could warn her of the ingredients.  Even though she was not upset about the mishap, I began giving her verbal rundowns of the “safe” dishes at future events.

The gang wanted to stay close to downtown and possibly include some browsing in local shops.  I’m sure you’re thinking what I was thinking: Nulu.  I began googling like crazy to check out the menus at some of the restaurants on Market Street.  I also checked the Urbanspoon app on my phone because I wanted to see what kind of “like” percentage these places had if I had not been there myself yet to form my own opinion.  Earth Friends Café had a whopping 97% with 85 voters.  The menu had many vegetarian options and some real meat for me.  I threw it out as an option, along with Ghyslain which is one of my favorite lunch places.  My guests chose Earth Friends Café after only slight campaigning from me for the other option.

We met at Joe Ley’s.  I figured that was a landmark out-of-towners couldn’t miss.  We had fun browsing around the massive antiques store before sauntering down the street in the blistering heat and stifling humidity toward the Café.

The restaurant sits off Market Street at the back of a large parking area near the outer reaches of the shopping district.  The interior is bright and open with a glass case displaying desserts and a coffee bar.  The Café features daily specials including a different grilled cheese sandwich and a rotating turkey sandwich each day.  Several options looked good to me including the gourmet grilled cheese (tomatoes, spinach, pesto, provolone, and goat cheese on brioche), the chicken provolone Panini, and the vegan bowls.  Another customer walked by us, extolling the deliciousness of said bowls so they were moving upward on my mental list.

My friends ordered the grilled cheese-of-the-day and the black bean vegan bowl with a side of kale chips.  I ordered the Asian chickpea bowl, mainly because I was really in the mood for Asian flavors.

The kale chips were wonderfully crispy and a deep, dark green.  I really like kale chips even though my husband claims nobody truly likes them, we just want to pretend they’re good because they’re trendy right now.  The only thing wrong with these chips is too much salt.  Every third chip would result in a salt bomb.  That made me yearn for my favorite beer that doesn’t taste like beer, Michelob Ultra, to quench my thirst.  There are no “regular” beers at the Café…only the “fancy” beer as I call it.  You know, microbrews or higher ABV beers.  No wine here, either so I was relegated to a sparkling water.  Which reminds me that they serve waters in mason jars.  That’s ok but it didn’t seem to fit in with the hipster mood of the place.

My friend’s sweet grilled cheese was rich, creamy, and decadent.  Melted cheese with candied nuts and raspberry spread.  I don’t know if I could have eaten the whole sandwich though due to the overwhelming sweetness.  It was more like a dessert.

My other friend’s black bean bowl was reported to be spicy indeed and he liked it.  It contained rice, black beans, cilantro, avocado, corn, and a creamy jalapeno dressing.

earth friends 2My Asian bowl was just okay.  I asked for the dressing on the side because I prefer less dressing than most people.  I tasted the dressing with my fork and noted it was very mild so I poured about a third on and tossed the ingredients.  I could barely taste it.  I added another third, tasted again, and ended up dumping on the remaining dressing.  I still got very little flavor out of it, and certainly not the Asian flavors I was expecting when I placed my order.  It was a bit odd to have the starchy rice topped with a lot of starchy chickpeas. There were scarce veggies – I saw a few tiny broccoli florets, some bits of carrots, and a sprinkling of green onions.  Peanuts added nice crunch, but the dish overall was bland and boring and mostly light brown.

If I were making this dish I would chose rice OR chickpeas, not both.  Then I would add a lot more veggies – broccoli, celery, carrots, maybe a snow pea or two, and red bell pepper.  This is a vegan dish, not a carboholic dish.  The veggies would add much needed color and flavor, not to mention nutritional value.  And that dressing needs to be majorly amped up.

Needless to say I was disappointed in the food at Earth Friends Café.  I’d like to know what those other 82.45 diners ordered that was so good.  Each of our lunches cost around $10 plus drinks, a reasonable amount in my opinion.  Service was friendly and efficient and the restaurant was clean.  I was anxious to get back out on the street for more shopping.

Earth Friends Café gets two out of five from me.  I have no desire to go back.

Earth Friends Café
829 East Market Street
Louisville, KY  40206
502-749-8911

Earth Friends Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Vincenzo’s Deserves Another Review

How many times have you been to a restaurant with a large group and the experience was a disaster?  I know.  Me, too.  You’re all excited about taking your family or group of friends to one of your favorite places only to be embarrassed by the disappointing service and lackluster quality.  Serving large parties is a challenge.  Some places do it better than others.  For example, my family went to Jeff Ruby’s to celebrate a milestone birthday and the entire experience was amazing.  Another great group experience was Vincenzo’s.

I know what you’re thinking: didn’t she diss them in her review a few months ago?  Yes, yes I did.  I wasn’t overly impressed with the so-so quality for the top shelf prices, although service was good.  In the interest of fairness, I felt it was important to convey the details of an outstanding group dinner at this landmark restaurant.

Let’s set the stage:  it is a group of about 20 business professionals.  We are seated in a large private room at one long, rectangular table.  We have one primary server.  Someone else is picking up the tab for the food.   The menu has been predetermined for us.

The first course was very similar to the TORTELLINI ALLA PANNA CON PARMIGIANO REGGIANO from the dinner appetizer menu.  That dish is described on the menu as “pasta pillows filled with ricotta cheese served in a Reggiano Parmigiano cream sauce with prosciutto, peas and mushrooms”.  We were served bow tie pasta with peas and cream sauce.  While I still maintain that fine Italian dining should feature fresh made pasta, this dish was yummy.  Put cream sauce on pretty much anything and I’ll eat it.  I also happen to adore peas.  I like the way they burst in your mouth when they cooked to just the right doneness and the bright green color looks so pretty on the plate.

After that we were served INSALATINA DEL KENTUCKY described on the menu as “Kentucky limestone Bibb lettuce with walnuts, goat cheese and orange supreme with Champagne vinaigrette“.  This was a delicious flavor combination in a fresh, light presentation.  I usually skip the salad course to save my appetite and my wallet for the “good stuff” – hot, savory dishes.  But this salad was very enjoyable and I would like to recreate it at home in my own kitchen.  Goat cheese=delightful.

The entrée course was a combination of a version of the FILETTO RIPIENO (9 oz filet grilled and stuffed with gorgonzola cheese, wild mushrooms glazed with Bordelaise sauce) and the POLLO CON ASPARAGI (Farm raised airline breast of chicken served with asparagus tips, sun-dried tomatoes and gorgonzola cheese).

I pride myself on attaining level 20 in the “food” category on Quiz Up.  In fact, it’s my best category aside from “name that celebrity”.  (yes, I watch a lot of mindless television.  It’s a guilty pleasure.)  However, I did not know what “airline” chicken was.  I guessed it had nothing to do with the mode of shipment to the restaurant.  A few seconds of googling and I had my answer.  Airline chicken is another term for “frenched” breast of chicken.  It is a boneless chicken breast with the first wing joint and tenderloin attached and is generally served skin on.

Our group did not receive an “airline” breast of chicken as no drumette was attached to the breast pieces, but the rest of the description rang true on our plates.  This is one of the most delicious pieces of chicken I have eaten in my entire life.   And I’ve eaten a lot of chicken, folks.  First of all, it was a thick piece but tender and moist throughout….perfectly cooked.  A light breading provided subtle crunchy texture.  The sauce is to die for.  It was a lick-your-plate moment.  My birthday dinner may have turned out differently had I chosen this chicken dish.  Typically, I shy away from chicken at nice restaurants because 1) I make pretty good chicken at home, 2) it usually isn’t very impressive, and 3) I feel so unadventurous and boring ordering chicken.  This chicken dish was the polar opposite of the stereotypes.

The filet was so tender there was no need for a steak knife.  Of course the staff already knew this and saved us the trouble of working around a needless utensil – no steak knives were provided.  Accompanying this mouth-watering beef medallion was an amazing Bordelaise sauce.  Bordelaise sauce is a classic French sauce named after the Bordeaux region of France.  It is typically made with dry red wine, bone marrow, butter, shallots and sauce demi-glace.  I’ll give you my definition of this Bordelaise sauce:  heavenly.

As much as I am drawn to cream sauces, I am also a sucker for asparagus.  Cream sauce AND asparagus together would launch my tastebuds into another dimension.  Adding asparagus to this plate made me such a happy girl.

We also had a super cute little red potato that had been hollowed out, the potato flesh whipped with who knows what deliciousness, and then artfully piped back into the potato shell.  It tasted as good as it looked.

The meal was topped off with tiramisu, made in-house.  Impressive-looking with multiple layers of zabaglione/mascarpone and ladyfingers, it is topped off with what could be chocolate ganache.  I’m a “dusting of cocoa” kind of girl and I felt the chocolate ganache-y stuff overpowered the flavors and lightness of the tiramisu.  Nonetheless, it was a sweet, rich ending to this outstanding meal.

The service throughout our dining experience was impressive.  Extra help materialized to facilitate the presentation of each course, serving the ladies first, but placing all plates on the table within moments.  No one was awkwardly sitting with food in front of them, waiting on the entire party to be served before they could dive in.  We were all able to enjoy hot food simultaneously.  In addition, the pace of the meal was efficient but relaxed.  The space between courses was never so long that I felt like I was actively waiting nor did I become impatient.

Of course my satisfaction level for this meal had nothing to do with the price since I wasn’t paying for my food.  I am considering only the food and the service.  I highly recommend Vincenzo’s for large parties, as long as your wallet is fat enough.

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